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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 07-12-07, 01:55 PM   #1
Yen
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How do I know I'm eating enough

I am a 50+ woman who re-entered cycling 3 months ago. Prior to that, I slowly lost 30 lbs. by loosely following a diabetic exchange plan for hypoglycemia + weight loss (1600 calories/day) plus walking 30 minutes/day.

Then, 3 months ago I bought my bike. At the same time, I increased the amount of walking I do. I now bike or walk for 30-60 minutes/day, with some longer rides (2+ hours) on the weekends. Since then, I have not made big adjustments to what I eat and have lost only a few pounds, which is fine (I'm not overweight, I just want to lose some of the remaining upper-body fat deposits and maybe 10 more pounds for the sake of my back, knees, ankles and feet).

My entire weight loss has been no more than 1 pound/week, sometimes none for an entire month, and I am very happy with that. I am more concerned with losing too fast than losing any at all at this point. However, people are starting to notice my weight loss and ask me if I tried to lose weight, or if I am sick. Since I have not lost weight drastically, and I eat a very balanced diet with a good balance of carbs and protein, and never skip meals (Hubby says all I do is eat, LOL), I think the fat must be melting off due to the big increase in exercise over the past 3 months.

But since I didn't add a lot of food when I began exercising more, I am wondering if I am eating enough to maintain muscle mass. I feel strong, and every week I feel stronger on the bike or when walking (which includes hills and stairs). I never feel week or tired or fatigued at all.

So I'm wondering.... what are the signs of not eating enough calories for my level of exercise? I am still loosely following the exchange plan.... if I do get hungry during the day then I add a healthy snack (apple + nuts, 1/2 peanut butter sandwich, cottage cheese and fruit.....).

Are there other signs to look for that signal I'm not eating enough, if I feel good and strong and perform well in my activities?

Jen
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Old 07-12-07, 02:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Yen
But since I didn't add a lot of food when I began exercising more, I am wondering if I am eating enough to maintain muscle mass. I feel strong, and every week I feel stronger on the bike or when walking (which includes hills and stairs). I never feel week or tired or fatigued at all.

So I'm wondering.... what are the signs of not eating enough calories for my level of exercise? I am still loosely following the exchange plan.... if I do get hungry during the day then I add a healthy snack (apple + nuts, 1/2 peanut butter sandwich, cottage cheese and fruit.....).

Are there other signs to look for that signal I'm not eating enough, if I feel good and strong and perform well in my activities?
I think the main things to look for, you have addressed. You are not feeling weak or tired, and if you get hungry you have a snack. If you aren't eating enough you will begin to feel weak doing everyday things, and you will get very hungry at times and feel like no amount of food can satisfy you. I've been there, its not fun.
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Old 07-12-07, 06:35 PM   #3
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I think the main things to look for, you have addressed. You are not feeling weak or tired, and if you get hungry you have a snack. If you aren't eating enough you will begin to feel weak doing everyday things, and you will get very hungry at times and feel like no amount of food can satisfy you. I've been there, its not fun.
I think I may be at this point right now. In all honesty my diet isn't the best and I know I should be eating better. A lot of the time it feels like no matter how much I eat it isn't enough. Is it safe to say if I improve my diet, by eating healthier and more filling meals, this feeling will go away?
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Old 07-12-07, 09:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by DC Bruz
I think I may be at this point right now. In all honesty my diet isn't the best and I know I should be eating better. A lot of the time it feels like no matter how much I eat it isn't enough. Is it safe to say if I improve my diet, by eating healthier and more filling meals, this feeling will go away?
Yes, eating more fruits & vegetables which are more filling food will make hunger pangs go away. Also eating/drinking a recovery meal right after your workouts will help elevate blood-glucose and leptin levels and ward off the hunger. It hits much harder if you don't eat right away. And can lead to binges.
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Old 07-12-07, 09:44 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DC Bruz
I think I may be at this point right now. In all honesty my diet isn't the best and I know I should be eating better. A lot of the time it feels like no matter how much I eat it isn't enough. Is it safe to say if I improve my diet, by eating healthier and more filling meals, this feeling will go away?
If you improve your diet it should eventually go away, but it may take some time. I really wrecked my body, I became anemic and got gastroenteritis. It took me a long time to get over it. The anemia made me feel weak all the time and the gastroenteritis felt like hunger when it got inflamed. Iron helped with the anemia, and figuring out which foods didn't cause inflamation helped with that. I'm not saying I think that's what's happening with you--just pointing out how important diet is, and that improving your diet may not fix you immediately. But stick with it and you will feel better with time.
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Old 07-12-07, 10:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DC Bruz
I think I may be at this point right now. In all honesty my diet isn't the best and I know I should be eating better. A lot of the time it feels like no matter how much I eat it isn't enough. Is it safe to say if I improve my diet, by eating healthier and more filling meals, this feeling will go away?
Probably so.... unless there's another reason for it.

When I ate too many carbs, I felt hungry very quickly. Eating a healthy diet gives me so much more energy, a more positive frame of mind, clearer skin, and I have a new wardrobe now that many of my old clothes fit again.
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Old 07-12-07, 11:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Yen
I am a 50+ woman who re-entered cycling 3 months ago. Prior to that, I slowly lost 30 lbs. by loosely following a diabetic exchange plan for hypoglycemia + weight loss (1600 calories/day) plus walking 30 minutes/day.
...
Then, 3 months ago I bought my bike. At the same time, I increased the amount of walking I do.
So I'm wondering.... what are the signs of not eating enough calories for my level of exercise? I am still loosely following the exchange plan.... if I do get hungry during the day then I add a healthy snack (apple + nuts, 1/2 peanut butter sandwich, cottage cheese and fruit.....).

Are there other signs to look for that signal I'm not eating enough, if I feel good and strong and perform well in my activities?
Jen
Sounds like you;re doing quite well, Jen.
As for under eating, most of us really shouldn;t worry about it. But then You don;t really give the specific of your diet plan.
As relates to 'weight', its really not about that, its about body composition. Muscle is heavy, fat is relatively lighter. But you know that.
You also know where your body packs on the fat. Go by that indicator. If the fat pack is going down, thats more important than weight on the scale.
As for under-nutrition, signs of weakness and lethargy can actually be misleading. Low levels of important nutrients and compounds can cause any of those symptoms even when the overall calorie count is adequate. It really depends on what the 'symptom might be...
As for compensating for 'riding'. It really depends on how 'much' (miles and speed) you do. Most of us 'over-compensate' for what we see as 'strong exercise'. But it really takes some serious effort to burn some real calories.
There was a recent thread where an old Bicycling magazine calorie counter was posted - giving a calories/rider weight/mph conversion to get at a calorie usage. It estimates a little high (my 2cents) but is still a good ballpark estimator
or us the calculator at http://www.kreuzotter.de/english/espeed.htm - I think it also estimates a little high, but still good ballpark estimates to see how much Kcals you might be using during a ride.
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Old 07-13-07, 08:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by cyclezen
Sounds like you;re doing quite well, Jen.
As for under eating, most of us really shouldn;t worry about it. But then You don;t really give the specific of your diet plan.
As relates to 'weight', its really not about that, its about body composition. Muscle is heavy, fat is relatively lighter. But you know that.
Yep. The only reason I care about weight is to relieve my back, and lower-body joints, especially my feet. I'm tall so I can weigh a lot more even at ideal weight, which means more weight for those joints to support. I want to get leaner.... that's what I should say.

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Originally Posted by cyclezen
You also know where your body packs on the fat. Go by that indicator. If the fat pack is going down, thats more important than weight on the scale.
Now that I am no longer overweight, I take my measurements once/month but I keep an eye on the scale just to track it and make sure it doesn't go down too fast (1 lb./week at most is fine). And I try on clothes that previously didn't fit, or go shopping for clothes in a smaller size that now fits. The scale reveals the least progress per month, where the measurements and clothing try-ons reveal the most.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezen
As for under-nutrition, signs of weakness and lethargy can actually be misleading. Low levels of important nutrients and compounds can cause any of those symptoms even when the overall calorie count is adequate. It really depends on what the 'symptom might be...
I remember when my diet was nutritionally poor (but calorie-abundant), I eventually got sore areas at the corners of my mouth and scaly patches on the sides of my nose. That was my signal to do something.

Thanks for the link. I'll try to find the other one from Bicycling magazine.
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